Can You Wear Steel Toe Boots on a Plane? Answers From TSA

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by  Jon Wadsworth | Last Updated: 
can you wear steel toe boots on a plane

If you wear steel toe boots for work and you’re going to be flying, packing your large, heavy boots can be a huge pain. You’ll lose luggage space, and it just seems like a better idea to wear them on the journey.

You’re not alone if you’ve worried about whether you’ll be allowed to wear steel toe boots on a plane. 

I’ve set off an airport metal detector (or three) before, and to help you avoid that stress, I’ve put together exactly what the TSA (Transport Security Administration) says you can and can’t do with your steel toe boots.

What are the TSA Guidelines on Steel Toe Boots?

The TSA guidelines regarding steel toe boots aren’t as in-depth as you might think, so it took a little digging to be absolutely certain of the rules. 

When flying, you have several options when it comes to steel toe boots. TSA guidelines advise you can;

  • Pack your steel toe boots in a carry-on bag.
  • Pack them in your checked bag for pickup after landing.

That information doesn’t include, as you might have guessed, that there’s no mention of whether you can wear your steel toe boots when flying or even in the airport itself. 

Thankfully, you can wear your steel toe boots on a plane and in the airport. You’ll only start having problems when going through checkpoints, as your boots will almost certainly set off any metal detector.

PreCheck Travelers Might Still be Stopped

If you are a PreCheck traveler, guidelines state that you do not need to remove shoes, laptops, 3-1-1 liquids, belts, and light jackets. But I’m afraid that’s where it gets a bit tricky because anyone simply seeing that information might find it’s not the case.

After looking into PreCheck further, I’ve found that steel toe boots don’t fall into the “shoes don’t need to be removed” category. 

You may stride up to the checkpoint with your ticket and PreCheck number on display, only to be asked to remove your boots.

Like most rules set in stone, things can go sideways when the human factor is considered. The final decision on whether you’ll have to remove your boots rests with the TSA officer at the checkpoint, but you’re taking those boots off more often than not.

If you’re a frequent flier then it’s certainly worth looking into the PreCheck screening process, and you can find more comprehensive information on the TSA PreCheck website.

Do Steel Toe Boots Set Off Metal Detectors? 

Steel toe boots are going to set off metal detectors; there’s no way around the problem. Metal detectors can be set to varying degrees of sensitivity, but there is too much steel in your boots not to have the klaxons wailing.

It’s not unheard of for the steel frames of some types of glasses to set off a metal detector, so the caps in your boots will undoubtedly do the same. 

If your boots are alloy rather than steel, there is still a high chance that you will set off a metal detector. 

Because you can technically hide things in your boots, you’ll have to remove them to show that you’re not hiding anything more terrifying than those horrendous Christmas socks you keep wearing. 

Can You Wear Steel Toe Boots With Spikes on a Plane?

If your steel toe boots have spikes, you won’t be able to wear them on a plane, and you’ll probably be stopped in the airport too. While the TSA allows travelers to wear standard steel toe boots, the spikes can be considered a hazard or even a threat to others.

If your spikes are detachable, you should always pack these in your carry-on or checked bags. If your spikes are for use in harsh conditions where you need the extra grip, that’s fine, but you’ll struggle to justify the need for extra grip while in the airport cafe or sitting on a 747.

Part of the reason you need to remove your steel toe ,even if you’ve signed up for the PreCheck services,  is to ensure the safety of yourself and the public. If a checkpoint officer spots spikes on your boots, you’ll be asked to remove them.

Best Way to Pack Your Steel Toe Boots

The TSA offers a few tips when packing your steel toe boots, though it is aimed at making it easier for the officer checking your bags than it is for you. 

The TSA advises packing your bag in neat layers, so it’s easier to search.   

I suggest packing vertically rather than horizontally.

If you place your boots at each end of your bag and then pack in between them as if you were stacking books on a shelf, it’s easier to access everything. 

A benefit is that you can see everything in your bag, and security can do a search quickly without taking every layer out.

You can pack one layer after another, but be aware that if your steel toe boots are on the bottom layer, they’ll probably be taken out to be checked. Put them on the top layer if you haven’t got anything breakable in your bag.

Alternative to Steel Toe Boots 

If you’ve decided that you don’t want to have to deal with removing your steel toe boots at every checkpoint, you do have alternatives. Alloys such as aluminum will still set off a metal detector, so you’ll be much better off with a composite toe boot.

A composite toe will offer you the same protection as a steel toe but without the need to take them off at each airport checkpoint. The Wolverine Legend work boot has a composite toe that won’t set off alarms and offers your feet the safety they need.

Wolverine Legend Boots

The new Wolverine Dura shocks is a fully integrated energy return system adding comfort into every step so you can power through the job. Engineered for performance. Built to last.

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The Wolverine is also waterproof and has a suspension system in the sole that makes them very comfortable, perfect for a long-haul flight. 

You’re not restricted to work boots; if you prefer to wear a pull-on cowboy boot, there are great options too. Ariat’s WorkHog Comp Toe boot is comfortable to wear all day, and your toes will stay protected thanks to the composite toe.

Composite-toe boots are becoming incredibly popular as they’re comparable to steel toe boots for safety. Composite is lighter than steel too, which makes it even more appealing.

The added bonus of being much more suitable for use when going through metal detectors, or flying, might not have been a primary goal, but for us, they’re an excellent option.

Ariat WorkHog Comp Toe Boot

Loaded with comfort and durability, the Ariat WorkHog Waterproof Work Boot for men is designed to withstand harsh outdoor work environments and oil and gas exploration.

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Carbon fiber is one of the latest materials used to create a lightweight alternative to a steel toe boot. While your feet will feel light and protected , there’s a high probability of carbon fiber boots setting off an airport metal detector. 

Due to many modern knives being made of a carbon fiber composite, airport security measures can, and usually do, pick up on any carbon fiber materials. If you’ve invested in a pair of boots with a carbon fiber toe, you’ll probably be required to remove them just like a steel toe boot.


If taking your favorite steel toe boots off a few times when heading through an airport doesn’t bother you, then flying in steel toe boots won’t be a problem. The TSA accommodates safety boots, but just be aware of the minor inconveniences.

If you’re a frequent flier, you should consider composite-toe boots like the Wolverine Legend.

With all the same steel toe features, you’ll easily fly through check-in in your comp-toe boots. If you like to pack light, then wearing your composite boots will save space and effort.

Wolverine Legend Boots

The new Wolverine Dura shocks is a fully integrated energy return system adding comfort into every step so you can power through the job. Engineered for performance. Built to last.

Check Price
If you click this link and make a purchase, we earn a commission at no additional cost to you.


Do I have to remove my shoes at airport security?

There will be certain situations at an airport security checkpoint that require removing your shoes. If you are wearing safety boots with a steel toe, then the likelihood is they will set off metal detectors. If that happens, you will be asked by security to remove your boots and place them on the conveyor belt.

Do steel toe boots set off metal detectors?

Steeltoe boots will almost always set off the alarm regardless of the setting on an airport metal detector. Your only option to avoid this scenario is to buy boots with a composite toe. Even passengers who have completed a PreCheck meeting beforehand will still need to remove their steel toe boots at a checkpoint.

Do boots with a carbon fiber toe set off metal detectors?

Carbon fiber isn’t a metal and shouldn’t set off a standard metal detector, but that’s not the case in airports. Reports suggest that most modern airport security measures, including metal detectors and security wands, will pick up the carbon fiber material and require checking. This measure ensures carbon fiber knives cannot pass security measures.

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